At “awards shows” such as this, beautiful and instructive words are usually uttered, but since we science fiction writers usually do the opposite of what’s permissible, I’ll be reading a word of justification.
Why justification? Because science-fiction is always ever only being accused: they say it detaches readers from reality, it’s the authors’ escape from the same reality, they say it’s applied literature or it's not literature at all. My defense will be short because those present here today have nothing to justify to their own time and their own readers.
It was an escape from reality. It is true that Bulgarian science fiction-writers were escaping. But what were they escaping from? From a reality that all our people are struggling to escape from now. In that sense, our escape was an escape forward to greater space and more air to breathe.
It was a detachment from reality. That's right. We tore our readers away from the absurdities of a poorly organized workday. We made them dream of another reality. We prevented a machine, completely built for manipulating thought, from weakening the minds and imaginations of young people.
It was applied literature. It’s true. At a time when socialist realism, inapplicable to art, was creating a dirty virtual reality, we reflected the real fears and hopes of our time through visions and metaphors, encouraged young people to worry about their future, to think about the great and common problems of humanity.
It was not pure literature. It’s true. At the same time, real literature was loitering on the shelves of bookstores and libraries, then was given for remelting, but we insisted on being the most despised authors in Bulgaria and... the most read authors at home and abroad.
In such a situation, does science-fiction deserve awards? It would be insulting to those who have given out prizes up until now and insulting to science-fiction. So let’s create it ourselves.
Seven or eight years ago, in the same hall where we are now, a surely benevolent but rather naive jury proposed to the SBP (Writers Union of Bulgaria) Board of Directors to present one of their annual awards to yet another one of my books. Mastit, a Bulgarian poet of the time, was indignant: “How can you give him an award?! With this science-fiction, he always wants to say something else!” And we should be grateful to this then-ruling poet for protecting not only my work, but all science-fiction from the poor etiquette of the conjuncture that he had discovered, the essence of its applicability - to always be saying something else, something different from the state directives. Thus, Bulgarian Fantastika is the only genre in our country that managed to protect itself from being polluted by the totalitarian regime. And this really does deserve some kind of award.
We named the award “For Good Imagination” because none other than Imagination is the god of this planet. It creates and reshapes, but like any god, if it wants to, it can destroy. That’s why we encourage only good imagination and only imagination that creates good.
On the suggestion of Stanka Pencheva, who has long been helping our country’s science-fiction as an editor and compiler of collections, we named the figurine “Graviton”. We know that no one knows what the graviton is and what it represents, but we see in it a symbol - it is the bearer of that great force that connects all things in nature, called gravity. And because, in the end, the graviton could also be just a figment of our imagination.
Each figure was sculpted by the hands of two young artists - Kiril Hristov and Vasko Bardarov. It’s as heavy, rough and tangled as the times we live in. But it also poses a challenge to those who look upon it: to exercise their imagination, to decide what it is, and to decide how to untie the cruel knot in which humanity has tied itself.
The nearest creators and most like-minded people in our business are the (visual) artists. Their part is to lure the reader's eye to our science-fiction, which is why we decided to award the “Graviton” to one writer and one artist each year.
I hardly need to introduce you to the people we focused on this year. For many years, Tekla Aleksieva, with high professionalism, love, and inspiration, has not only created the covers for a hundred books from Biblioteka Galaktika but also illustrated hundreds of other works. Her contribution to the popularity of science-fiction in our country is great and indisputable, and the gratitude of Bulgarian authors for her loving imagination is indisputable too.
Agop Melkonyan is one of the most popular names in Bulgarian literature today. With his books, plays, and countless popular science works, he has earned a bright presence in our cultural life. It seems to me that he is worthy of being the first of our company to receive the award.
Let this strange “Graviton”, on which is written “For Good Imagination”, nurture their creative self-confidence. Let it also serve them as a consolation against injustices that we - and also those who don’t write science-fiction - all know will not pass us over in the times to come!
We present to you, The Graviton!